I love this middle Eastern salad and to be honest I could tuck into it any time of year. Now that spring is upon us, it’s definitely a good time to start serving this crisp, fresh dish.
It originated in northern Lebanon and always featured some leftover toasted bread, often pitta. Fattoush will differ from table to table, restaurant to restaurant. I think it looks great with a selection of different tomatoes, cut in different sizes – those are key to the dish and you can vary the other ingredients as you see fit. A sprinkling of ground sumac is the final flourish before you serve the salad.
Sumac – a versatile spice
Sumac is a ground spice made from dried berries – it has a lemony tartness and is widely used in middle Eastern cooking. it is great as a spice rub for lamb, chicken or fish and a little sprinkling on a bowl of hummus would not go amiss. If you haven’t tried sumac before, give it a whirl.
Traditionally, fattoush was a way of using up some stale pitta bread. You could try this with any flatbread and I guess you could go down the fusion route and use whatever bread you have to hand. You could just toast it, but I like to bake it with a little olive oil, all adds to the flavour.
- 4 stale pitta or other flatbreads
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp sumac
- 1 kg ripe tomatoes
- 2 medium cucumbers
- 5 spring onions
- 100 g radishes
- 1 small pack flat leaf parsley
- 3-4 sprigs mint
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°fan/gas mark 6.
- Tear the pitta into shards, place on a baking tray and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes until crisp, then set aside to cool slightly.
- Crush or grate the garlic and put in a jar with the lemon juice, vinegar, oil and sumac. Season with salt and pepper and shake well. Leave to infuse until the salad is ready.
- Cut the tomatoes into chunks, they don't all need to be the same size.
- Cut the cucumber into rough dice.
- Finely slice the spring onions.
- Top and tail the radishes and cut them into quarters.
- Pick the leaves of the flat leaf parsley and mint and roughly chop.
- Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions and radishes in a large serving bowl. Stir in the herbs.
- Toss the dressing with the salad, then, just before serving add the pitta and a final sprinkling of sumac.